Hey friends, I’m really glad you found your way onto my blog again! It makes me feel supported on my journey through life and I hope reading my posts makes you feel the same way.
Remember my fascination – okay, you’re right, it’s more like an obsession – with attachment theory and the different styles of attachment, a subject brought to me by the infamous book by Amir Levine and Rachel S.F. Heller? Ever since I finished listening to the audiobook, I’ve been rather convinced that I was both anxious and avoidant in relationships, which seemed to be making a lot of sense until not that long ago. However, I recently found out that I may have been wrong about my self-evaluation in terms of attachment styles and that it’s possible that I *only* have an anxious attachment style. I’m feeling quite chipper as I’m typing these words and you may find yourself wondering why this is even good news to me – it’s not like I just found out that I’m in fact securely attached, right?!
Well, finding out I’m only HALF as dysfunctional as I thought is actually quite an enjoyable discovery for a change 😉..! Also, I’m currently taking some time off work, which may explain why the tone of this post is much more upbeat than my usual writing style – no work, no stress!
How did I come to the previously mentioned realisation, you may ask? I recently found myself in a couple of situations that made me incredibly uncomfortable, not because the situations themselves were terribly uncomfortable ones per se (on the contrary, actually), but because old behavioural patterns of mine were awakened by triggers I seem to generally avoid at all cost, without even having been aware of it up until now. The situations I’m talking about here are, without exception, social ones, daring me to stay true to myself despite heightened anxiety levels. Fed up with the debilitating effects of what I’ll be referring to as social anxiety* from now on, I decided to look for ways to learn how to deal with it, fully aware that I’ve already made so much progress in that department over the years** but also frustrated because it doesn’t seem to be one of those things you can just get rid of for good. On my quest for remedies, I stumbled upon a 10-day audio course about social anxiety by Ellen Hendriksen on the app Insight Timer and despite the fact that I already knew a lot about social anxiety prior to starting the course, it didn’t take long until I discovered a couple of new things about my long-time companion that is social anxiety:
- It’s important to distinguish between social anxiety and introversion! Here‘s a rather insightful article about this particular topic that I can definitely recommend. I found out that social anxiety also affects extroverts, which seemed counter-intuitive to me at first and I reckon that social anxiety may be an even bigger burden to extroverts than it is to introverts.
- Social anxiety brings a lot of avoidance to the table! This was actually the most eye-opening lesson for me. I always figured that the avoidance I was feeling a lot of the time (and particularly in romantic relationships) was just that: an avoidant attachment style. But come to think of it, I struggle with the feeling of avoidance not only with romantic partners, but also with friends, acquaintances, colleagues, and even people I’m not actually looking to have any kind of close relationship with, and therefore it makes a lot more sense to consider my avoidance in the context of social anxiety. Now, this doesn’t necessarily make the experience a whole lot more pleasant for me (believe me, it’s still an absolute pain in the neck!), but I felt relieved when I was able to untangle all those seemingly separate issues and link avoidance to social anxiety, such that two separate issues are now only one and therefore much less overwhelming for me 🤩.
Another thing that contributed to me coming to terms with the fact that I’m probably prone to an anxious attachment rather than an anxious-avoidant one is an Instagram video by Tracy Mc Millan, in which she explains how attachment works. She mentions that if your partner / romantic interest is constantly on your mind and you think about them a lot, then chances are you have an anxious attachment style. Guilty as charged!
I always find it exciting when I discover something new about myself, or when I find out that something I believed to be true about myself isn’t actually true. This goes to show that it’s crucial for me (and everyone else, probably) to keep challenging long-harboured beliefs and thoughts.
Not everything one thinks is true.
On a slightly different but also kind of related note, I recently found out that I don’t dislike (and don’t suck at) riding a bike for longer distances, just like when I discovered that I actually am capable of running 10K if only I am in the right mindset. Managing to go beyond the physical limitations I had been set on has been the best teacher for me. I believed I couldn’t do it for most of my life and then I did it anyway. Total game changer 🙌!
* If you don’t know what social anxiety is, this interview (with Ellen Hendriksen) may be able to provide some insight into the topic.
** I also wrote about it before: The Social Heebie Jeebies.